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White Witch Moth

Thysania agrippina


Enormous moth of 31 cm wing span. White with brown bands. The underside of the moth is also very beautiful (last picture).


The valley of San Cristobal de Las Casas is at an altitude of about 2,200 meters and is surrounded by pine forest and highland wetlands. Our wetlands have been severely depleted since the 1980's and the forests are in grave danger as well from over population, illegal logging and gravel mining.


This is the White Witch, Great Grey Witch, or as it is called in Mexico, the Gavilana (“the hawk”). This moth can reach very large sizes, making it the insect with the largest wing span in the world. The species is Thysania agrippina of the Family Noctuidae (the same Family as the Black Witch). It occurs from Southern Mexico through South America and often comes to lights. This specimen was captured at a gas station in 1987 in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico and is the largest that we’ve seen at 31 cm (12+ inches) of wingspan. We have not seen any of these moths since the 1980’s. The underside of the wings are darker and it has long spurs on the legs. The larva is rarely seen and the range of host plants is unknown.

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25 Comments (1–25)

LaurenZarate 10 years ago

Thank you Mark :)

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 10 years ago

Oh my goodness! Sorry I missed this one.

LaurenZarate 10 years ago

Thank you Luis and Gilma. It is numbing to see a moth this size!

Beautiful!! Hoping to see one of this beauties...some day... : )

LuisStevens 10 years ago

Impressive size!

LaurenZarate 11 years ago

Thank you injica, drP and Elsa. Still haven't seen another one. Still hoping.

Elsa 11 years ago

And now I read the notes too.. That's really sad about the habitat degradation. I hope you get to see one again soon.

Elsa 11 years ago

Wow! That is incredible - glad you put the hand in there for scale or I would have no idea it was that HUGE!

drP 11 years ago


injica 11 years ago

WOW, what an amazing moth, thank for sharing such an unique creature! It is such a tragedy that their natural habitat is slowly disappearing :/

LaurenZarate 11 years ago

Thank you Telse, Leuba, Carolina and Cindy. I sure hope this species still exists here.

Impressive size and beauty!

Carolina 11 years ago

WOW That's huge!

Leuba Ridgway
Leuba Ridgway 11 years ago

just came across this spotting - really amazing! I hope it's thriving well in some safe place...

Telse 11 years ago

What a find!

Harsha Singh
Harsha Singh 11 years ago

Whoa! Nice.

rutasandinas 11 years ago


Aaron_G 11 years ago

Fantastic spotting!

LeanneGardner 11 years ago

Wow! Just wow!

eulalia rubio
eulalia rubio 11 years ago


CarolSnowMilne 11 years ago

Fantastic! Sorry there have been no sightings for so long.

schaeffer.smith 11 years ago

Really really cool

Noah Citizen
Noah Citizen 11 years ago


KarenL 11 years ago


auntnance123 11 years ago

That's a Wow! (saw one in the insect museum in San Jose, Costa Rica)

Spotted by

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico

Spotted on Aug 20, 1987
Submitted on Sep 27, 2012

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